Love, blood & pumas

I’m in the middle of a very interesting book titled, prosaically but accurately, How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan. The subtitle is What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression and Transcendence.

Apparently, psychedelics are making a comeback or at least coming out of the shadows where they never really went away after being made illegal decades ago, in no small part due to the endless antics of Dr. Timothy Leary.

There are indications of legal openings for some uses of these incredibly therapeutic materials.

Leary’s main thing was LSD, a chemical compound developed in the first part of the 20th Century, but entheogens — my preferred term for the various mind-expanding compounds — have been known and used for centuries in various cultures around the world.

If you know little of entheogens, I highly recommend this book.

I dived right into the sea of entheogens in 1997, and I swam around for a spell. It helped me immensely in the wake of a divorce that left me in an exceptionally bad place.

In 1997, I ingested psilocybin mushrooms twice and LSD twice, all under the guidance of a kind psychologist who lived in the woods outside Tallahassee, Florida. I have written about this previously, but many years ago. Perhaps this is a different take.

Between 1997 and 1999, I also took Ecstasy five or six times alone in my Houston condo. Lovely material.

And during an entheogen conference in Palenque, Mexico, in 1999, a year before I moved south, I inhaled vaporized 5-MeO-DMT. My final entheogen experience happened in Florida about a year after moving to Mexico. I was up for a visit.

That time I drank a chemical analog of ayahuasca.

During the ayahuasca experience, a voice spoke to me loud and clear: You don’t have to do this anymore. And I haven’t.

All the experiences were stunning, but it seems that some of it, important parts, had faded from my memory over the two subsequent decades. Pollan’s book brought them back.

—–

Here are three

First: Dancing with love. This took place during the second psilocybin experience. If you state an intention before doing these things, it often will affect the experience. I said I wanted to dance with love, something I was feeling an immense lack of in the wake of my divorce.

What I imagined would happen was that a loving woman would appear to me, and we would dance. But that did not take place.

I saw nothing. There were no visuals, quite the opposite of what had happened during the first psilocybin excursion when the visuals were incredible. Instead, a sea of love enveloped me. It was sheer feeling and nothing like I had ever experienced in my life.

It was how you might imagine being embraced by God.

Second: Sea of blood. This one was a mix of LSD and psilocybin taken simultaneously. After the experience ended, the psychologist told me I had been laughing the entire time, which was strange considering what happened. A flood of blood from above had poured all over me.

Think the final scenes of Carrie.

While this sounds horrifying, it was not. Quite the contrary. While this happened, a voice told me it was time to grow up and become a man.

Third: The black panther. I remember this best of all, perhaps because it happened after I thought the experience had run its course. I was with my helper in his dark living room around midnight. It’s ended, I told him, and I decided to go to bed.

I felt totally normal.

I went into the bedroom, got undressed and lay on the bed in the dark. And I turned into a black panther. Just like that. My tail swished. My whiskers twitched. It was real. An incredible feeling of power. I don’t know how long it lasted, but then I became a woman.

I felt an extreme need to be cared for. I don’t know how long that lasted either, but then I drifted off to sleep.

Thinking back …

New Image

YESTERDAY MORNING, after hard work in the yard, I was sitting at the dining room table after second breakfast, cereal. My child bride had returned to her pastry workshop, so I was alone, gazing out the window toward the distant Alamo Wall.

With elbows on the table, I placed my face into my hands, closed my eyes and thought. What a high pile of memories.

Three-quarters of a century of breathing combined with an adventuresome, sometimes reckless personality lead to all kinds of crap, most still alive in the cranium.

Three wives, two countries plus a Caribbean island, two languages, planes, parachutes, motorcycles, hot-air balloons, mind-altering materials, a number of jobs but only one of any duration. I did stick with that, which was good, and why I’m here right now.

Dancing in clover.

I wonder about people who live in a more linear fashion. Finish school, a real profession, marriage, have kids, grandkids, buy a home and stay put for decades. Take vacations every year to places like Paris, then head home again.

Yes, I know far fewer folks live like that these days, but many still do.

I ponder if I would have preferred that. Some moments of my life have been pure terror. Try two divorces for starters. Once I had a small plane spin out of control, but it got leveled off. Once I flew into a cloud bank with no training on how to deal with that. And once I overflew a rural runway and ended up in the weeds.

Drive a motorcycle drunk? Count the times. Other stuff so absurd I’m not even going to share. Yet, there I sat at the table, full of cereal, low-fat milk and chia seeds while my child bride was baking brownies, and the sun was shining in a cool, blue sky.

An old man’s father

MY FATHER WAS born in 1915, two years before the United States entered World War I.

I was born 29 years later in the penultimate year of World War II. Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo were still walking the Earth.

My father and I were very much alike, the good and the bad. He was a newspaperman. Me too. I probably wouldn’t have been one had he not blazed that trail. I wonder what I would have chosen otherwise — or what would have chosen me, more likely.

I never heard him call himself a journalist even though he had a journalism degree. I’ve never called myself a journalist either. I’ve never even taken a journalism course.

My former coworkers used to say, “And it shows.” Hilarious.

I consider the term journalist pompous.

He was 6′, 3″ tall, and so was I. I’m probably not anymore. They say you shrink a bit in time, and I’ve not measured myself in decades. But I’m still probably taller than you. He was a good-looking guy, and so was I, something that gives you a leg up in life.

I’m still not chopped liver in the geriatric category.

dad
Him

We both retired early. He got out at 49 due to an inheritance. I fled at 55 because I was eligible and also because some of that inheritance had dripped down to me. My maternal great-grandfather, a very successful farmer named Dard Moree, owned a huge chunk of Worth County, Georgia, at one time.

My grandmother remembered Dard paying the field hands from a travel trunk stuffed with cash.

My father wanted to be a writer all his life. I never did, though I discovered I had talent after I retired. He was very good but too painstaking. After he got out of the Army in 1945, instead of returning to newspapering, he moved the family to my mother’s parents’ farm in Southwest Georgia, near a town called Sylvester.

He constructed a small writing room apart from the main house and started typing short stories for the pulp magazines that were very popular in those days before television distracted everyone. Simultaneously, he became a chicken farmer.

But neither the writing nor the poultry panned out and, by 1951, he was back in the newspaper business down in Florida where we relocated.

When he retired at 49, he and my mother moved back to the farm in Southwest Georgia because it was theirs by then. He started writing again, but poetry, not prose. He was very good. He finally focused on haiku, and became quite “famous” in the small haiku world. Two of his slim books are listed on Amazon, one for the incredible price of $58.

I too have a better than average skill at prose. I’m lousy at poetry. I’ve never published anything on paper, just online. My favorite is Dark Girl in the Blue Dress.

Where my father sweated the proverbial bullets over his writing, I never did. It seemed to flow out seamlessly when the inspiration hit, and it almost always struck me as I awoke at dawn, the ideas. My scant writing career took place during the decade of my 60s, nothing before or after. I don’t know why. The Muse was born late and then she died.

My father drank too much, but he quit in his mid-50s. I also drank too much, and I also quit in my mid-50s. FYI: Life improves spectacularly when you stop boozing.

In the 1980s, my sister once shared a joint with him, but he loathed it, and never did it again. I, on the other hand, am quite fond of mind-altering substances.

We were never close. I didn’t like him much though others did.

He died suddenly at age 75 in 1991. And I turn 75 next month.

Getting a hose up my butt

MY FATHER HAD colon cancer. He didn’t die of it. A heart attack carried him into the ethers at age 75 back in 1991.

He was in a hospital in Atlanta getting his five-year, remission checkup when he was on the verge of being discharged, cancer-free, just lying in a bed. Bam! Dead. Heart attack.

It’s a good way to go, far better than cancer. But he was only two years older than I am right now. His cancer was found at age 70 via a colonoscopy.

All of which is to say that I have a very close family tie to colon cancer. The medical community therefore recommends that I get colonoscopies on a regular basis. I do not do that. They are unpleasant tests, and I tend to dodge unpleasantries when possible.

This is shortsighted and stupid, of course.

My first colonoscopy took place in Houston in 1997. After I moved to Mexico in 2000, I heard that colonoscopies are done here under full anesthetic, the kind you get with major surgery. Nah, I said to myself.

Instead around 2005, I got a barium enema, which has a reputation of being very unpleasant. It’s no fun, but it’s not horrible either. It’s a good scan of the colon, but it lacks the thoroughness of a colonoscopy.

I was polyp-free. In 2011, I did it again. Polyp-free.

New ImageRecently, I noticed some odd sensations in the nether regions, so I thought maybe I should get another checkup, especially since life was going so well, and I was hesitant to wave bye-bye.

I found a gastro surgeon in the capital city by pure happenstance, which is to say I grabbed a business card from a counter at a hospital. I emailed him, and he answered right back. I told him I would prefer not to have a full anesthetic, so he gave me what I had received in Houston. It’s called “conscious sedation.”*

I did it yesterday. The procedure was done in a small operating room in a huge, new facility called Hospital Victoria. In attendance were a nurse, the gastro surgeon,** an anestheologist in a “Fly Emirates” T-shirt, and the gastro surgeon’s very sharp son, 11,*** who acted as a go-fer.

The anesthetic was not like I remembered it 20 years ago. It immediately shot me into a bizarre world of chaos and colors. It seemed like I was there 30 seconds, but it actually was about half an hour. I came out of it quickly, and my concerned child bride was standing at my side.

I am still polyp-free, but the doc did encounter what was causing the above-mentioned sensations. I return next week to see what can be done about that. With luck, it will be non-surgical.

Amazingly, the full tab for everything, including the crap you have to drink the previous night to flush your gut, was the peso equivalent of about $400 U.S.

I even received a color DVD of the hose’s full journey up my backside and back again. I have not watched it yet, and likely never will.

I paid cash, as I have done with all medical expenses since moving over the Rio Bravo. I am not in the clutches of ObamaCare.

Or Medicare either, for that matter.

Aging is no fun, but what can you do?

* * * *

* Why it’s called that is beyond me. I was not conscious at all, but you do come out of it very quickly and with little hangover.

* * Dr. Angel Arroyo, Office 1005, Hospital Victoria.

*** How many doctors take their sons to work in the United States?  They’d likely lose their licenses.